Mejia, Dolly. "Luis Ángel Rengifo: el artista, sus ideas y su obra." El Siglo (Bogotá, Colombia), September 20, 1953.
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These remarks by the printmaker Luis Ángel Rengifo, who was interviewed by the journalist Dolly Mejía, were published on the occasion of his exhibition at the Salón Gregorio Vásquez at the Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia in September 1953. Rengifo expresses his thoughts on current trends in painting, his stay in Mexico, his recent paintings, and his plans for the future. He admits to being opposed to abstract painting because “it cuts itself off from the public,” and he describes Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso as “solitary geniuses.” However, when he speaks of Impressionism, he is unstinting in his praise of the style’s most famous exponents, going as far as to say that “it is the movement that will last.” Rengifo claims to create “patriotic Colombian cultural works” by studying techniques without allowing himself to be influenced by current art trends. Looking ahead, he hopes to do some traveling in the near future, and would like to fulfill the dream that has so far eluded him for financial reasons, which is to visit the great European museums to see “the geniuses of universal painting.”
In this interview, the Colombian printmaker Luis Ángel Rengifo (1906-86) expresses his opinion on abstract painting. In those days he was interested in expressing “the vernacular” in his work, to the extent that he refers to his painting as “patriotic Colombian cultural works.” His words reveal his lack of interest in abstraction at a time when that style was gaining ground in Colombia, largely as a result of the sculptures produced by Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar (1923-2004) and Marco Ospina Restrepo (1912-83).
When asked about his plans for the future, Rengifo says he is anxious to go to Europe, visit the museums, and see the works of the great painters of the old continent. His dream came true in 1970, when he took a short trip and spent a few days touring Europe, which he recorded in his diary and published later, in 1973 [see “Bélgica: (Diario de viaje de 1970)”, doc. no. 1133788]. Rengifo spent a few years in Mexico City in the late 1940s, when printmaking was very popular there owing to the TGP (Taller de Gráfica Popular) that was founded in 1937 by a group of Mexican printmakers who were inspired by famous printmakers, such as José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913). The educational nature of his prints showcases local iconic figures like Indians, rural peasants, and workers. It therefore comes as no surprise to hear that Rengifo was unimpressed by abstraction. He was far more interested in illustrative works with a social message, as in the case of his series of thirteen prints based on scenes of Colombian political violence.
Rengifo was appointed chancellor of the Colombian Consulate in Mexico in 1946 and was the Colombian vice-consul to Mexico from 1947 to 1950. He performed his diplomatic duties while studying printmaking at the Escuela de Grabado in Mexico City under the tutelage of draftsman and printmaker Francisco Díaz de León (1897–1975) and José Tullo. Rengifo is considered a pioneer of the printmaking boom in Colombia. Colombian art historians, such as Gabriel Giraldo Jaramillo and Álvaro Medina, and the Uruguayan Ivonne Pini all agree with this description, because on his return from Mexico, he reinstated the chair of printmaking and lithography of the arts faculty at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (1951), where he was a drawing and printmaking professor. Furthermore, the prize he was awarded at the XI Salón Anual de Artistas Colombianos (1958) for his linocut Hambre (1958) confirmed the autonomy of this artistic language that for many years had been dismissed as a “minor art.”